ICAHD’s thoughts on a single state – and Labour links

This recent statement from the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) makes interesting, if sometimes confusing, reading.  Jeff Halper and Itay Epshtain explain that, even though they don’t consider the two-state model to be fair, ICAHD ‘has refrained from advocating for any particular solution to the conflict, believing that is the Palestinians’ prerogative’.  They say that they will accept any solution which is ‘acceptable to our Palestinian partners’.  It seems that Israeli voices don’t count.  They go on to indicate support for a one state solution which encompasses more than Israel/Palestine:

In fact, because a workable resolution of the conflict must involve the entire region, we have long proposed a Middle East economic confederation including, at a minimum, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. From that perspective, the creation of a single state in Palestine/Israel may represent only a stage, albeit an unavoidable stage, towards a more comprehensive solution.

This is perhaps the most unsettling part of their post:

There are fundamental variations and disagreements even among one-state proponents themselves. Political clarity is vital, especially if such a solution is – or is not – inclusive of Israelis. Indeed, does post-apartheid South Africa inspire our joint aspirations or is Algeria the model, whereby the Israeli “colonists” (if they are that) leave or are driven out when Palestine is liberated?

Although it might be argued that the Algeria model is brought in as a sort of straw man to be reassuringly knocked down, there is something extremely disconcerting, to say the least, in the way in which the authors calmly slip in, via parenthesis, a solution which somehow excludes Israelis (and is ‘Israelis’ quite the right word?) completely.

The report goes on to make some points – which on the face of it seem reasonable – regarding concerns about the annexation of Area C. But references to the unacceptability of ‘apartheid, even dressed in the clothes of a “two-state solution”’ and to the dangers of a ‘weak and compliant’ PA signing off a ‘Bantustan’ suggest a determination to achieve a single state, rather than more general concerns about the importance of securing a fair settlement for all.

Given the authors’ initial apparent disdain for Israeli aspirations, the second of five principles they list seems ironic, a kind of dutiful, or arse-covering, afterthought.  Here is the opening section:

2. A just peace must be inclusive. Two peoples reside in Palestine-Israel, and the collective as well as individual rights of both must be respected and protected. Since both peoples aspire to national self-determination, a right firmly embodied in international law, national expression must be provided for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The Labour Party supports a two state solution – that’s also the position not just of Labour Friends of Israel but of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East. However Martin Linton, former Labour MP for Battersea, is the parliamentary liaison for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD UK). He also runs trips to Israel/Palestine, particularly tailored for Labour members and activists.  Although his comments about tentacles are more eyecatching, his links with ICAHD are also worthy of note, I think. Do his views mirror the document I link to, paying lip service to both sides’ right to self-determination while only really attending to one side of the story?

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